Premium compact car; Built in Germany
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $4,800 – $17,500*


2001 Mercedes-Benz C240 4-door sedan


2002 Mercedes-Benz C230 2-door hatchback


2001 Mercedes-Benz C-Class interior


2002 Mercedes-Benz C230 2-door hatchback


2002 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 4-door wagon

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • All-wheel drive
  • Build quality
  • Quietness
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Automatic-transmission performance
  • Rear-seat entry/exit
  • Rear visibility

C320 sedans and wagons, in particular, are desirable near-luxury cars. Despite some cutrate interior details, they vie with the best in class for driving composure, features, and long-term value.

Overview

Mercedes-Benz redesigned its entry-level sedans for 2001, giving them standard V6 power, new safety features, and styling modeled on the flagship S-Class. Again a compact near-luxury four-door, the second-generation C-Class was about an inch longer in wheelbase and overall than the 1994-2000 models. Interior dimensions grew slightly, but trunk volume shrunk by nearly one cubic foot.

Replacing the previous C230, the new C240 sedan used a 168-horsepower, 2.6-liter V6. The 215-hp C320 borrowed its 3.2-liter V6 from Mercedes’ midsize E320. It replaced the C260. Both engines required premium fuel.

A six-speed manual transmission was standard on the C240, with a five-speed automatic optional. Only automatic was offered on the C320, which featured Touch Shift that allowed manual gear changes by moving the shift lever slightly left or right.

All models came with traction control, an antiskid system, and antilock four-wheel disc brakes. Also included were front and rear side airbags, curtain side airbags, and Mercedes’ BabySmart child-seat recognition system.

Standard tires grew to 16-inch size. An optional Sport package included a firmer suspension, slightly wider tires, aluminum interior details, and aero body trim.

Standard features included dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel (powered on the C320), wood interior trim, and a cassette audio system. The C320 added power memory front seats and a Bose premium audio system. Leather upholstery was standard in the C320 and optional for the C240. Xenon headlights, a glovebox CD change, and a navigation system were optional on both models.

Sedan rivals included the Acura TL, Audi A4, and BMW 3-Series.

Yearly Updates

2002 C-Class
During 2001, a C230 hatchback coupe joined the lineup, powered by a supercharged four-cylinder engine, as an early 2002 model. A station wagon and a high-performance sedan also augmented Mercedes’ entry-level line for 2002.
Both the C320 sedan and new C320 wagon used a 3.2-liter V6. The new C32 AMG sedan held a supercharged V6, with 17-inch wheels versus other models’ 16s, plus a sport suspension.
The C230 and C240 had a standard six-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic with manual shift gate was optional for those models, and mandatory on the C320 and C32 AMG. (The C32’s “SpeedShift” automatic was programmed for high-performance driving.)
Leather upholstery was standard in the C32, and optional in other models. Available for sedans was a Sport Package with an upgraded suspension and aero body add-ons. An optional Panorama glass sunroof for the coupe opened wider than other sunroofs, and included a fixed glass panel over the rear seat, plus dual power sunshades.
Mercedes’ TeleAid assistance system was optional for the C230 and standard elsewhere. Available for all was Mercedes’ COMAND navigation system, which included an Internet-based “InfoServices” feature that displayed user-selected information.
2003 C-Class
Mercedes’ entry-level line added available all-wheel drive and another wagon for 2003. The price-leader C230 hatchback coupe got a new supercharged four-cylinder engine, exchanging a 192-horsepower 2.3-liter for a 189-horsepower 1.8-liter.
Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive was newly available for all C240s and C320s. The new wagon was a C240, equipped like the returning sedan model; both used a 2.6-liter V6. The C320 sedan and wagon retained a 3.2-liter V6.
Topping the line, the C32 AMG sedan continued with a supercharged V6, sport suspension, 17-inch wheels, and a performance-programmed “SpeedShift” five-speed automatic transmission. Other models, including C320s, offered a regular five-speed automatic as an option to the six-speed manual.
Mercedes’ TeleAid assistance system was standard on the C32 and available for other models. Bi-xenon headlamps were a new linewide option (replacing low beams only).
2004 C-Class
All models were now factory prewired to accept a newly optional, dealer-installed satellite radio. Sports Coupes gained a standard three-spoke steering wheel, enlarged chrome exhaust tip, and other sporty appearance features.
2005 C-Class
Revised styling and introduction of a high-performance V8 model highlight 2005 changes to Mercedes-Benz’ least-expensive cars. The new high-performance C55 AMG sedan has a 362-hp V8. It replaces the 349-hp V6 C32 AMG sedan and has front-end styling distinct from other models’. Due during the ’05 model year is a 3.5-liter replacement for the C320’s 3.2-liter V6. For ’05, Luxury Sedans and Wagons get new-style wheels and adopt body trim used on the 2004 Sport versions. Sport Sedans adopt body trim used on the C32 AMG. Sport Coupes get a perforated grille. All have revised headlamps and taillamps and a redesigned dashboard. Interior trim–wood on Luxury versions, aluminum on Sports–is also revised.
2006 C-Class
Engines and model designations are new and the range of body styles is narrower for 2006 in the least-expensive Mercedes-Benz car line. Gone are wagons and coupes. Sedans survive and offer a choice of rear- and all-wheel drive. The C230 Sport for ’06 gets a 201-hp V6 in place of a 189-hp supercharged 4-cyl. The C280 Luxury has a 228-hp V6. It replaces the 168-hp C240. The C350 Sport and Luxury have a 268-hp V6. They replace the 215-hp C320. Again topping the line is the C55 with a 362-hp V8.
2007 C-Class
Mercedes-Benz’s smallest sedan is largely unchanged for 2007, pending a 2008 redesign due in calendar ’07. Discontinued is the 362-hp V8 C55.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive

Five distinct engines have been available in the C-Class. Initially, a supercharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder, rated at 192 horsepower, went into the C230 coupe. That was replaced by a 189-hp 1.8-liter for 2003. The C240 held a 168-horsepower, 2.6-liter V6. A 3.2-liter V6 went into the C320, while the C32 AMG held a supercharged version that yielded 349 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission was standard on the C230 and C320, but other models came only with a five-speed automatic transmission (optional for the C230 and C320). In 2005, Mercedes-Benz swapped the the 349-hp V6 C32 AMG for a new high-performance C55 AMG sedan with a 362-hp V8. Due during the ’05 model year is a 3.5-liter replacement for the C320’s 3.2-liter V6. For 2006, the C230 Sport gets a 201-hp V6 in place of a 189-hp supercharged 4-cyl. The C280 Luxury has a 228-hp V6. It replaces the 168-hp C240. The C350 Sport and Luxury have a 268-hp V6. They replace the 215-hp C320. Again topping the line is the C55 with a 362-hp V8.

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.6/159
Engine HP 168
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 177
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
5-speed automatic
17/26
19/26
18.4

Supercharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/110
Engine HP 189
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 192
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
5-speed automatic
21/31
23/32
Supercharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.3/140
Engine HP 192
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 200
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
5-speed automatic
19/29
21/28
ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.2
Engine HP 215
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 221
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
5-speed automatic
17/25
20/26
Supercharged ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.2/195
Engine HP 349-362
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 332
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
5-speed automatic
17/22

Road Test

Best all-around performers are the C320s. A test sedan accelerated from 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds; the wagon felt a little slower. The manual-transmission C240 is a bit underpowered for this class, at 9.2 seconds 0-60. With automatic, a C230 sedan managed this feat in 8.1 seconds, versus 6.9 seconds for the C230 coupe.

A test C32 took just 5.1 seconds, but supercharger-related throttle lag blunts the midrange thrust a bit. Mercedes said the AWD hardware added about 200 pounds, but acceleration is virtually the same as rear-drive counterparts.

Fuel economy is about as expected. A test C320 sedan averaged 19.2 mpg, despite gas-eating performance runs, but a wagon logged just 15.7 mpg in mixed city/highway driving. Comparable conditions yielded 18.4 mpg with a manual-transmission C240, and 19.3 to 22.2 mpg for automatic versions.

With automatic, a C230 sedan managed 23.4 mpg, versus 21.1 mpg for a C320 sedan with 4Matic. A test C32 averaged 20.3 mpg in mostly highway travel. All engines require premium fuel.

Ride comfort is a strong point regardless of model. C-Class sedans and wagons are supple and composed on most surfaces, with the base suspension. Coupes are a bit stiffer and more-fidgety. So are sedans with the optional 17-inch tires, and the C32, but they’re still comfortable. All-wheel drive does not affect ride quality.

Steering/handling is assured and highly capable, especially in the C32. The 17-inch wheel option for sports coupes and sedans enhances the base chassis’ already good grip and steering response. Coupes have slightly sharper moves than sedans, but aren’t quite sports-car nimble.

The standard antiskid/traction system is a foul-weather security benefit for any rear-drive C-Class. All-wheel drive has obvious appeal for snowbelt buyers, but all-season tires are a must on all models. Brakes deliver short, undramatic emergency stops, but pedal action was slightly touchy on some test cars.

Quietness is a virtue, led by impressively low wind rush. All engines are quiet and refined; the V6s rise only to a distant growl at top rpm.

Road noise is relatively high in the coupe with a Panorama sunroof, C32, and sedans with the 17-inch wheel option, which includes more aggressive tires.

Instruments and controls are typical Mercedes, with sober design and a few cryptic controls. Steering-wheel switches for calling up vehicle and trip data take time to sort out, as does the optional navigation system. Power-window switches are too low on the doors, and aren’t lighted.

Cabin materials and finish generally satisfy, except for some plastics and assembly details, especially on coupes.

Even though the front is a bit cozy-feeling, six-footers have plenty of space. Some drivers might find that the firm seats lack sufficient lumbar support, but the standard tilt/telescopic steering wheel helps tailor a good basic driving stance. The “busy” tail design hampers coupe visibility astern and over-the-shoulder, but the tinted glass panel below the hatch window helps when parking.

Sedans and wagons have adequate rear space for two adults, but no more. Riders sit knees-up if front seats are more than halfway back. Under-seat foot room also is at a premium.

The two-passenger rear seat isn’t as cramped as in most coupes; youngsters or medium-size adults ride in relative comfort, though entry/exit is a chore.

The usefully-shaped sedan trunk holds more than its 12-cubic-foot volume implies. Wagons are truly useful, with some 15 cubic feet more cargo room than a BMW 3-Series wagon. Coupes have fine cargo space even with the rear seat up. Split-fold rear seats enhance versatility in all models, but they have been optional in sedans.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2001 Mercedes-Benz C320

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 7
70%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 6
60%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 53

Specifications

2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.9 171.0 68.0 54.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
38.1 16.4 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.5 36.3 42.0 33.0
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.9 178.3 68.0 55.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
12.2 16.4 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.9 37.3 41.7 33.0
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.9 178.3 68.0 55.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
63.6 16.4 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.9 37.3 41.7 33.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: The air conditioner may quit working due to water leaking into the evaporator sensor. (2001-06)
Ball joints
Description: Knocking noises from the front suspension on rough roads is likely due to worn torsion bar links because the seals tear and water enters the ball joints. (2001)
Brakes
Description: A whistling sound from under the hood when the brakes are released due to a problem with the power brake booster. (2006)
Engine noise
Description: Tapping/rattling noise on startup with 1.8L engine due to faulty hydraulic cam adjusters. (2004)
Fuel pump
Description: Tapping from the area of the gas tank requires installation of a restrictor in the fuel vent line. (2006)
Keys
Description: If the key is left in the ignition switch for extended periods (up to 36 hours) the key’s battery may drain and the program in the key would then be erased. (2000-01)
Radiator
Description: The upper radiator support brackets bolts are weak and may break. Dealers were replacing all four bolts whenever one broke. (2001-02)
Rough idle
Description: The V6 engine may run rough or hesitate due to water getting into the crankshaft position sensor, requiring a new sensor and improved wiring assembly. (2001)
Steering problems
Description: The power steering hose may leak at the connection with the rank-and-pinion assembly due to 0-ring damage. (2001)
Transmission noise
Description: A scraping noise from the transmission tunnel area due to insulation drooping and contacting the drive shaft. (2004)

Recall History

2000-04 CL-Class
Description: Corrosion of the active body control’s distribution hose may cause deterioration of the hose allow hydraulic fluid to leak near the catalytic converter, resulting in a possible fire. Dealers will install a new hose.
2004
Description: The locking mechanism of the seatbelt may be faulty. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2005-2008
Description: An incorrect software calibration number (SCN) coding received during a recent workshop visit can affect a number of functions: (1) the fuel gauge readings may be incorrect; (2) a stuck fuel-level sensor may not be displayed in the instrument cluster; (3) the check engine light may illuminate incorrectly; and, (4) the speedometer may be out of tolerance. In the event of a vehicle crash, the electrical fuel pump may not receive a crash signal that is required for the fuel pump to disconnect and prevent future fuel delivery as designed. Dealers will recode the SCN.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.